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October 16, 2008 3:43 am

Clark residents receive some answers at new drill site

Written by Tribune Staff

About 15 citizens showed up to learn more and express concerns about a proposed gas well inside the Shoshone National Forest's boundaries near Clark.

Windsor Energy Group is seeking permission to drill an exploratory well about a quarter of a mile inside the forest in the Line Creek Drainage.

As part of a 30-day public comment period, the Shoshone National Forest hosted an informational field trip on Wednesday, Oct. 8, to the proposed site of the drilling. Representatives from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and Windsor were on hand to answer questions.

The location is less than a mile from Windsor's well that blew out and contaminated groundwater in 2006.
At the outset, District Ranger Terry Root stressed that the question is not if Windsor should be allowed to drill. He said the company owns the rights to the site's minerals.

“They have the right to develop those rights,” Root said.

He said the mineral lease and drilling are authorized under an Environmental Impact Statement issued by the Forest Service in 1995.

“We will not be going back over the politics,” he said.

Comments are sought to help determine how intensely the Forest Service should evaulate the proposed site, said Marty Sharp, the Shoshone's environmental policy coordinator.

Deb Thomas, organizer of the Clark Resource Council and a resident who lives down the road from the development, said she wants to see the Forest Service look at the cumulative impacts from all of the area's drilling rather than take a piece-meal approach.

“One of the challenges that a lot of us have is there's been no full-field development plan,” she said.

Sharp said other wells will be considered in a “big picture kind of analysis.”

Many in attendance had Crosby well 25-3 particularly in mind.

In August 2006, the surface casing below well 25-3 ruptured, sending drilling fluids, liquid gas condensate, and natural gas bubbling up through groundwater and soil to the surface. That forced the temporary evacuation of 15 households.

In September 2007, contaminants were found in the drinking water of Mel and Connie King.
Since the blow-out, Windsor has been working with the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality to determine the extent of the damage and clean it up.

“We're still testing water for contaminants,” said Clark resident Nancy McCoy. “How can you even consider this (new drilling)?”

Jeff Bull, a safety, health and environment manager for Windsor, said the proposed well isn't comparable to the blowout site.

“The main thing to understand about this well is it is a vertical well, not a directional well,” Bull said.

The Crosby 25-3 well was drilled directionally — diagonally down and away from the pad. The proposed well inside the National Forest would go 9,400 feet straight into the ground.

Directional drilling is often used to drill multiple wells from one pad. Residents asked why Windsor wasn't using a directional well from the existing 25-3 pad.

Bull said it would have been too expensive and difficult from that distance.

He noted the 25-3 well has operated without incident since the blowout.

Dave Seward, a BLM natural resource specialist, said the plans Windsor submitted call for extra precautions. He said the bureau would oversee the drilling process and later inspect the rig.

Last month, Windsor's vice president and general counsel, Bill Liedtke, said the company plans to drill two other wells in addition to the one inside the forest's boundary.

Windsor had originally planned to drill those wells last year, but the Wyoming DEQ asked them to hold off until the clean-up investigation was complete. With that now finished, Liedtke said the company plans to drill new wells by year's end.

Bull said Windsor has had a hard time getting drilling rigs, slowing their plans.

“Drill availablity stinks,” he said. “It has nothing to do with the desire to drill or not to drill.”

Windsor is hoping to drill the two wells and the one inside the forest back-to-back-to-back.

Liedtke also has said that Windsor may propose additional wells in the immediate area of the exploratory well in the Shoshone if it proves successful.

Residents wanted to know how many trucks would be driving up and down the road, and what would be done with waste from the site.

Bull said he didn't have all the technical information about the project on hand.

“We didn't come expecting to answer these questions,” he said.

The Forest Service has scheduled two public meetings on the proposed drilling later this month. One is slated for Oct. 22 at Big Horn Federal in Cody at 6 p.m. and another on Oct. 23 at 6:30 p.m. at the Clark Recreation Center.

Additionally, the deadline for public comments has been extended from Oct. 31 to Nov. 16.

Public comments should be sent to 203A Yellowstone Ave., Cody, WY, 82414, by fax to 307-527-6921 or by e-mail to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .